Analysis of the Marine Stewardship Council’s policy on shark finning and the opportunity for adoption of a ‘Fins Naturally Attached’ policy in the MSC Fisheries Standard Review
Shark and ray (hereafter referred to collectively as ‘sharks’) populations globally are on the brink of collapse, with more than 30% of all known shark species threatened with extinction due to industrial overfishing. While sharks are often caught as bycatch in the tuna and other teleost fisheries, they are also targeted for their meat and liver oil. However, the lucrative shark fin trade remains a main driver for fisheries to retain only the fins when targeting sharks and to retain the fins of incidentally caught sharks, including from species that are illegal to retain. In particular, oceanic shark species and some coastal ray species are most prone to be affected by the shark fin trade due to the high value of their fins and their endangered status. Out of 31 oceanic shark species, 16 are now classified as endangered or critically endangered by the IUCN and the global abundance of oceanic sharks and rays has declined by 71% since 1970 due to an 18-fold increase in relative fishing pressure.1 In light of the severe and urgent threats faced by sharks, numerous but not all jurisdictions have implemented bans on finning to stop this unsustainable exploitation of sharks for their fins. However, the implemented methods to operationalise finning bans vary substantially showing varying degrees of effectiveness. This report analyses the effectiveness of the various methods and the reasons for their implementation in different jurisdictions, concluding that a Fins Naturally Attached (FNA) policy, when accompanied by adequate monitoring and surveillance measures to ensure compliance with the regulation, is now well-established as the only effective method to eliminate shark finning. Eliminating shark finning, alongside catch limits, retention bans, and bycatch reduction measures, will be an essential objective to prevent the extinction of many shark species, and the destabilising impact this will have on marine ecosystems. While several alternative policy options have been tested and remain in place in many regions, all of them contain substantial inadequacies and loopholes and create complexities in monitoring and enforcement. The report analyses those alternatives, including fin-to-carcass ratios, and fins artificially attached regulations...
Also presented as Provide data on cetacean bycatch to Bycatch Data Exchange Protocol (BDEP). - Review cetacean and cetacean bycatch mitigation information on BMIS. - Cetacean expert attendance at planned Joint tuna RFMOs Bycatch Working Group (meetings and/or workshops) as this is a platform for all five t-RFMOs to communicate on shared challenges such as bycatch and would be an excellent forum for sharing outcomes of Tuna II Project.
Also presented as IOTC-2023-WPEB19-INF36.